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Medical professionals affiliated with Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago played a crucial role within a globally diverse team of specialists appointed by the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) to formulate and authenticate innovative, data-driven standards for identifying sepsis in pediatric patients.

New criteria for identifying sepsis introduced

Sepsis represents a significant global health challenge, causing more than 3.3 million child fatalities annually. The recently introduced criteria for pediatric sepsis, referred to as the Phoenix criteria, align with a contemporary shift observed in adult criteria. This modern perspective defines sepsis as a severe reaction to infection, characterized by organ dysfunction, diverging from the previous emphasis on systemic inflammation.

The comprehensive details of the updated pediatric sepsis criteria are outlined in two articles released on January 21, 2024, in JAMA, and simultaneously disclosed at the SCCM Critical Care Congress in Phoenix, Arizona.

Lead author Dr. L. Nelson Sanchez-Pinto who collaboratd with Dr. Tellen D. Bennett, MD, MS, from the University of Colorado, co-leading the data group of the SCCM task force said the most recent standards for pediatric sepsis were formulated almost two decades ago, relying primarily on expert perspectives. In contrast, the newly established criteria is grounded in the analysis of electronic health records, drawing insights from over 3 million pediatric healthcare interactions across 10 global hospitals. This comprehensive research encompasses diverse healthcare settings, extending to low-resource environments.

Machine learning helped identify at risk children

Sanchez-Pinto said that utilizing a machine learning strategy, they employed a systematic approach to pinpoint key factors in recognizing children at elevated mortality risk due to organ dysfunction during infections. The devised criteria focus on cardiovascular, neurological, respiratory, and coagulation systems, surpassing outdated standards in identifying high-risk cases. These criteria are universally applicable, even in resource-constrained environments

Dr. Sanchez-Pinto and Dr. Lauren, Founders’ Board Nurse Scientist and Associate Director of Nursing Research at Lurie Children’s played a crucial role in the formation of the pediatric sepsis task force. Additionally, Dr. Elizabeth Alpern, the Division Head of Emergency Medicine at Lurie Children’s contributed to the comprehensive efforts of the task force.